MARSHAWN Hampton has taken a little while to fit into the run and gun Tamworth Thunderbolt style but the young man from Atlanta is starting to fit the basketball bill for the local side on its Waratah State League quest.
Last Saturday he and Nick Kay starred for the Thunderbolts in their 66-55 win over the Newcastle Hunters at the Tamworth Sports Dome.
This Saturday they will be hoping to ignite again when the Thunderbolts host Port Macquarie.
Coming to Australia has been a thrill for the 25-year-old Georgian.
“I have enjoyed it a lot,” Hampton said after Saturday night’s win.
“It’s been a great experience for me.
“We’ve had a slow start but we’re starting to play real strong now.”
That Hampton wants to play well and help the Thunderbolts to a Waratah State League title is evident every time he steps on the court.
A few weeks back he sat demoralised on the bench long after the final hooter had sounded following a disappointing loss to the Bellinger Valley Braves.
He had been hoping to show the Tamworth crowd what he could do, especially with two fellow American imports in the Braves lineup.
It wasn’t to be and the Thunderbolts were beaten.
Sitting alone, he reminded himself how far he’d come and what he was aiming t do.
The next week he led the Thunderbolts to a big season-saving coastal double header, beating the Braves in the second leg of a Lismore, Bellinger Valley road double.
And so it was on Saturday night .
The little guard was quick as ever and wanting to drain every chance he had.
He also said new guard Brett Arnull, who came from the Gold Coast, was in a similar situation, trying to fit into a new program.
“The two of us are just starting to get our chemistry together.
“It’s taken a while to adjust.”
He said the team was improving and “playing for each other”, especially at the defensive end.
‘That’s something John (coach Ireland) has stressed – defend, defend, defend.”
It’s a mantra super coach Jack Gibson instilled in his rugby league premiership-winning sides at Eastern Suburbs (now Sydney City Roosters) and Parramatta.
Get the defence right and the attack will follow, Ireland said.
Gibson would be proud of him. And Marshawn Hampton is hoping to help him become part of a premiership-winning side.